As the teams gather in Kentucky, some final thoughts on the two teams..
- All of the controversy generated by Nick Faldo’s wild card selections (as we more or less predicted) will be forgotten about if Poulter and Casey play their part in a European victory. Of course, the opposite is equally true. If Europe loses and Ian Poulter struggles then the press will be on Faldo’s back all the way to Christmas.
- Talk of an English bias on Faldo’s part appears to be unfair. It is possible to make an argument that both Faldo and Poulter have very ‘English’ personalities and that Faldo would find some of Poulter’s strengths more appealing than, say, Olazabal or Monty might. But to suggest that Faldo showed national bias in picking Poulter over Clarke stretches the point too far. Remember that if Luke Donald’s wrist was in good shape, he would almost certainly have taken Poulter’s place. And he’s English too!
- Many have argued that the absence of Clarke and Monty will mean that the team will lack leadership. This remains to be seen but it’s difficult to imagine that a team with players like Garcia and Harrington will be a rudderless ship. Garcia has been sensational as a Ryder Cup player and there’s no reason to expect that he won’t play a leading role once more.
- Paul Azinger has played the local card with his selection of JB Holmes. At the press conference where his final team line-up was announced, Azinger pointedly highlighted the fact Holmes was a local boy and that he was a bomber (hits it long off the tee!) before mentioning his name. Anyone who experienced the visceral roar that greeted Darren Clarke’s arrival at the first tee in the K Club in 2006 will understand how local passion can create a magical dynamic.
- With all the talk about the loss of leadership on the European side, the US team has no fewer than six rookies on board. Monty has advanced the argument this week that Europe’s victory in 2004 came down to the rookies delivering. It’s obvious that a US triumph in 08 will require a significant contribution from these new players.
- As for which pairing combinations would work the best, well, let’s just say that those scientists at CERN with the 17-mile long accelerator have an easier job than trying to work out the Ryder Cup pairings…